In Print and Online

Category: Non-timber forest products


Title: Commercialization of Non-timber Forest Products: Factors Influencing Success

Author: Elaine Marshall, Kathrin Schreckenberg, and Adrian Newton

Organizations: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC)

Date: 2006

Language: English, Spanish

Number of pages: 140

Eco-Index Summary: Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) have the potential to greatly improve the economic status of rural communities while conserving their natural resources; this report examines why some attempts to commercialize these products have succeeded while others have failed to deliver the expected economic benefits. The report uses 19 different NTFP case studies in Mexico and Bolivia to examine the "fair-trade" and "eco-labeling" marketing trends and the environmental sustainability of the NTFP industry.

The report findings include: eco-labeling may present a barrier to rural communities, as it is expensive and beyond the reach of many communities; entrepreneurs provide an important link between producers and the market, and can influence whether trade is fair to producers or not; however, there the small number of entrepreneurs involved in NTFPs leaves many communities dependent on one or a few market sources; many producers in developing countries have to face competition with cheaper imported goods and reduce the price for their own product; and, over-harvesting is one of the biggest risks to commercializing NTFPs, but can be corrected through training and education. The report recommends that support should be focus on building the business skills of rural communities to help them avoid exploitation. Also, by organizing into cooperatives, producers can strengthen their ability to negotiate fair business deals and secure a higher price for their products.